In a first of its kind meeting of such a high-level defense official from the United States to the Baltic region, U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, will meet with the defense ministers of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, this Wednesday in Vilnius.
“The visit of James Mattis to our region shows that we have allies and that the defense cooperation between the U.S. and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is strong,” Estonian Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna said, reported The Baltic Times.
“After a work lunch, the ministers are to visit the General Silvestras Zukauskas training area in Pabrade where they will meet with representatives of the U.S. and Lithuanian defense forces as well as the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania.”
The Baltics have been a sensitive region for NATO since the Russian Federation started increasing its military operations near the borders of said countries. NATO has semi-permanently station armored vehicles and forces in the region as a partial deterrent to Russian aggression in the area.
The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad sits right in the middle of the three countries, as a port on the Baltic Sea, and is filled to the gills with weapons, all pointed towards the Baltic countries. Recent NATO war games showed Russia could overrun the Baltic capitals in three days and there is nothing NATO could do to stop this with current force levels.
President Trump has been pressuring the NATO members to do more to support and pay for their own defense as opposed to depending on the United States military for their protectino.